Uttarakhand floods: 80 Odia pilgrims rescued

Bhubaneswar: Several Odia families, apprehensive of whereabouts of their family members who were on a pilgrimage to the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand earlier this month, heaved a huge sigh of relief on Friday after news came that they have been rescued.
 
Home Secretary UN Behera told media that 80 pilgrims, trapped in several parts of the flood-hit State have been rescued and, of them 54 are returning to their homes.
 
However unconfirmed sources say, above fifty Odia people are still feared to have been trapped in various parts of the State that was hit by cloudburst and floods in the upper reaches leaving several hundreds of homes, rest houses and buildings in ruins and thousands of people missing. 
 
Based on perliminary information the number of people from Odisha stranded in Uttarakhand is estimated to be around 200, an official release said.
 
According to reports, around 40 pilgrims from Paralakhemundi area in Gajapati district, 20 from Ganjam, 10 from Bhubaneswar, 16 from Jatani and 10 of a family from Cuttack were stranded in the flood-hit mountainous areas of Uttarakhand. Nearly 25 pilgrims from Jatni in Khurda district and 8 from Rengali in Sambalpur were also stranded in the flood hit State.
 
The Odisha Government, observing gravity of the situation on Thursday had opened a 24X7 control room at the Odisha Bhwan in New Delhi to assist family members of the victims besides sending the joint resident commissioner of Odisha in New Delhi to set up a camp in Dehradun. 
 
Meanwhile massive rescue operations were on Friday launched in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand with 40 helicopters pressed into service to evacuate over 9000 people from Badrinath and Kedarnath areas. 
 
Over 150 people are reported to be dead so far while the Uttarakhand Government said the toll in the rain fury could be "shockingly high".
 
The Uttarakhand State Disaster Mitigation and Management Centre has in its report to the Union Home Ministry said that casualties in the affected areas may run into thousands with about 90 'dharamashalas' (rest houses for pilgrims) swept away in the flash floods.
 
Nearly 14,000 people are believed to be missing and another 60,000 are stranded.
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